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Time To Take Back South City Park

Redding police are asking citizens to report any suspicious activity at South City Park, at the corner of Cypress Avenue and Pine Street, which has become a magnet for criminal activity.

During October and November, police responded to an amazing 730 calls at the park for everything from stabbings and fights, to robberies, indecent exposure and vandalism. Most of these calls have occurred during daylight hours. Police have made more than 100 arrests this year at the park, which is located at the corner of South Market Street and Cypress Avenue, near City Hall. Police and city crews often find hypodermic needles and broken meth pipes on the playground. The police used to have a substation in the park, but budget cuts forced the substation’s closure.

I’m not about to wade into the City of Redding’s budget priorities or police staffing levels. All I know is that bad guys shouldn’t be allowed to take over a park. Parks are intended to serve the needs of law-abiding people, especially kids who need places to run, play and explore.

I frequent parks in Redding and all over, because I too need places to run, play and explore (and because I have a wonky interest in public spaces and landscape architecture). It’s not hard for my untrained eye to spot people who are up to no good in a park. I’m not talking about a homeless person sleeping on a bench. I’m talking about the guy sitting in a car who keeps cracking his window to make “transactions” with people who come and go quickly. I’m talking about the guy who hangs around the restroom for 20 minutes.

I say it’s time to take back South City Park. It’s an important facility for baseball and softball players of many ages. It’s a place where kids from the Garden Tract and Parkview neighborhoods should be able to play without any worries about broken glass or shady characters. It’s a place where a girl should be able to sit quietly under a tree and read a book from the nearby library.

No need to go vigilante here. Just use your eyes, ears and judgment, and give the cops a call when something doesn’t look right. The number is 225-4200. If the situation is urgent, dial 911. The park belongs to everyone.

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• Speaking of the library … the City of Redding is considering adopting a formal policy for the use of public forum area outside the library. Various folks like to solicit support for causes outside the library. They also like to distribute annoying pieces of advertising. The proposed policy would allow all the usual free speech but would prohibit people from hawking stuff or tucking a flyer under your windshield wiper. Contact the library to learn more.

• National Influenza Vaccination Week concludes this Saturday, December 11. That means there still is time to get a flu shot – before all those holiday gatherings in stuffy rooms full of coughing and sneezing people. The Shasta County Public Health agency has flu shots at all of its offices, as do some pharmacies and doctors’ offices. Read up at www.shastaflushots.com, and I promise I won’t nag you again.

Paul Shigley is senior editor of California Planning & Development Report, a frequent contributor to Planning magazine and was a .400 hitter in Little League. Well, almost .400. He lives in Centerville. Paul Shigley may be reached at pauls.anewscafe@gmail.com.

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